As we enter 2017, we find the world of interface design much different than it was a few short years ago. Mobile is now king and heavily influences user interface design. If you look at current stats, 56% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices and that percentage is growing [SimilarWeb]. Additionally, 65% of all digital time is on mobile devices [comScore].
With mobile dominating digital, it is a crucial component to consumer behavior that must be understood and addressed when designing user interfaces. User interface design regularly sees new trends and developments and as we enter 2017, here are a few user experience (UX) design trends that are sure to make a big impact for the designers that utilize them.
1.) Micro Interactions:
To improve user experiences, many developers are paying careful attention to the details of each interaction that takes place. This involves stepping away from the big picture and looking at each task and optimizing each task to improve the experience. One of the best known examples of this is the pull-to-refresh feature used in apps like Facebook or Gmail. This action is very easy-to-do and provides a more satisfying experience than just pushing a button to refresh.
Even though these micro interactions seem simple or perhaps trivial, they can greatly improve the user experience, additionally, well-designed micro interactions can make your system a joy to use. Key here is taking a user-centered design approach and focusing on improving the user experience. Effective micro interactions will often communicate status and provide feedback to users and respond to them so that they feel in control and see the results of their actions. Micro interaction make a user interface feel more interactive and allow a user to connect to an interface.
2.) Anticipatory Design:
When it comes to UX, one of the goals is to design interfaces that allow users to make decisions quickly with little or no mental effort. By utilizing anticipatory design you can reduce the number of choices presented to users and cut down on decision making fatigue to improve the user experience. Anticipatory design creates many powerful possibilities for user interfaces by giving you the opportunity to create personalized user experiences.
A system utilizing anticipatory design will base its behavior on the user’s past and expected future behavior. By leveraging user data the system can make predictions of future behavior. You often see this with some of the more popular brands. For instance, Netflix will suggest content based on your past viewing choices. Essentially what they are doing is reducing the number of choices and pointing the user towards options that they think the user would be interested in based on past behavior. By doing this they reduce the cognitive strain of decision making.
3.) Micro Moments:
User experience is rapidly becoming one of the main differentiators between brands. Considering that 65% of digital media time is on mobile devices, developing high quality mobile user experiences is essential. But how do you cater to users’ needs here?
One way to improve the user experience for your customers is by making the right information available to them at the right time. A great example of this is Uber which suggests making your current location the pickup location when you open their app.
One way to anticipate users’ needs is considering what Google calls micro moments. These are the moments when someone picks up their mobile device to act on one of four impulses; they either want to learn something, do something, buy something or go somewhere. In these moment users have a great deal of intent and their expectations are high. Businesses that are interested in improving customer experiences are developing not only an understanding of how these moments relate to their business but also putting strategies in place for how to deal with them.
4.) Conversational User Interfaces:
Another trend is likely to make a big impact in 2017 is the use of conversational user interfaces. The term conversational user interface describes an interface that allows users to communicate directly to the system in a way similar to conversation with other people. Generally we see this type of interface in the form of chat-bots talking with users. In conversational dialogues of this type, you can utilize both a verbal form of communication based on language and other non-verbal forms of communications such as emoticons.
One of the key advantages of conversational user interfaces is the ability to automate basic and repetitive tasks, allowing your personnel to focus on more complex work. But beyond that, a conversational user interface can enhance the usability of your interface by prompting users in a proactive fashion.
But be carefully when programming your interface; don’t only focus on standard situations while missing non-standard issues or questions. Often when users choose to interact with a chat-bot it is because they are facing a non-standard issue. To create an effective conversational user interface your process needs to start with user research and testing at the early stages of your UX design process, allowing you to uncover user concerns and issues that should be addressed. Conversational user interfaces can help your user interface feel more responsive and interactive if you have done your homework and designed them well, otherwise, they can frustrate and turn users away.
Based on these trends, it is easy to see that UX will be an area of focus for many businesses this year as they strive to improve interfaces and user experiences. Concepts such as micro interaction design, anticipatory design, micro moments and conversation design can help enhance the usability of interfaces if carefully applied to your users’ needs. As always, focusing on users’ needs is at the core of improving any user experience and should be at the heart of any user interface design project. User research allows you to focus and refine your efforts to give users what they need. Don’t forget to pay attention to the details as that is quite often the difference between a great user interface and an average one.